They stay in inexpensive hotels and eat almost exclusively at Chinese buffets, but Los Angeles is happy to see Chinese tourists come, says the Los Angeles Times. “They spend a lot on shopping,” said Nathan Xue, a tour guide for TPI America. Much more, in fact, than the usual L.A. tourist: according to the latest statistics by the U.S. Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, Chinese tourists spend an average of $2,932 per visit to California, compared with $1,883 for other overseas visitors. But almost a third of their spending is going towards gifts for others.
At the Desert Hills Premium Outlet in Cabazon, California – about an hour-and-a-half east of Downtown L.A. — groups of Chinese tourists arrive to stock up on gifting items that are twice or three times more expensive back home, including accessories from Coach and shoes from Ugg.
According to research done by both the U.S. and Chinese governments, visitors to California are mostly white-collar workers bringing in at least $66,900 annually. “The Chinese middle class is growing and their No. 1 destination is L.A.,” declared the mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa. He has made two trips to China thus far to promote travel and trade for his city and will soon visit Beijing again.
Chinese spending has simply rocketed, surpassing the per capita outlays of even historically high-spending visitors from areas like South Korea, Japan, and Australia. But while shopping is a favorite recreation of Chinese visitors, they certainly exercise judgment in their purchases. To get the most for their dollar, they prefer to shop at outlet stores. They look for bargains on vitamins and high-end gifts that make the expense of traveling worthwhile.
Nearly 1 in 3 Chinese tourists who come to the U.S. make a stop in Los Angeles. In 2012, a record of $168.1 billion spent by foreign visitors to the U.S. was recorded, thanks in large part to help from Chinese buyers. “We see many visitors head to the luggage store, get a suitcase and then it’s, ‘OK, we are going to fill the bag,'” said Michele Rothstein, a senior vice president at one of the country’s largest operators of regional and outlet malls, Simon Property Group. The Chinese are definitely seen as speed shoppers,” she said.
photo credit: incase